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North Cascades Highlights

A long time favorite trip that’s full of mountain adventure sports in the “American Alps” with inspiring panoramic views!


Jul 14 - Jul 25, 2024


12-14 (rising 7th-9th)


$3745 (airfare not incl.)




  • Camp in Washington state
  • Sea Kayaking San Juans
  • Backpack N. Cascades Natl' Park
  • Rock Climbing Goat Wall
  • Horseback Riding Winthrop, WA
  • Swim in lakes, rivers, streams
  • Rafting the Sauk River
  • Explore Bellingham, WA
This trip arrives and departs from Seattle, WA

Living at home and living at Alpengirl are very different lifestyles. All girls are different and adapt to this in different ways. The physical fitness at Alpengirl is an adjustment for all girls, whether it is big or small. Everyday the Alpengirls are exercising whether it's...

~ Courtney (Pennsylvania)

Trip Description

A Summer Adventure Camp in Northwest Washington for Teens 

The Washington Cascades are one of the most varied and majestic mountain ranges in the United States. Home to famous “must-climb” mountains such as Mount Baker, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainier, Alpengirls will get the chance to experience exactly what this world-class outdoor playground has to offer.

Combining expeditions on both land and sea, girls will really become familiar with the flow of being away from traditional campgrounds at this Washington State summer camp. Each camper will experience true nature immersion, while having the time of their life and finding their inner adventuress!

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Alpengirl!

Arriving at SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, your Alpenguides will greet you and introduce you to the rest of your camp group. Icebreakers, name games, and get-to-know-you fun abound before you and your new expedition mates hop in the van and drive to our first campsite. 

Once we arrive, we'll learn how to set up our tents and enjoy the first of many delicious and fresh camp meals – how about a famous Alpengirl Welcome burrito? – before settling into our tents for the night. 

Day 2: Let’s go rafting!

Waking up refreshed and renewed, you’ll grab your sleeping pad and set up for your first daily morning yoga session. After a strong morning stretch, we’ll fill our bellies with a nutritious Alpengirl breakfast – perhaps blueberry pancakes served with turkey bacon (YUM!).

After learning the basics of camping, we’ll pull on our swimsuits and get ready for a rip-roarin’ whitewater rafting adventure! We’ll meet our rafting guides and set out for an afternoon on the class II-IV Sauk River – a designated Wild & Scenic River, with some gnarly rapids like Hole-in-One and Alligator Drop!  

Days 3-8: Backpacking time!

It’s finally time to get out on the trail! After your Alpenguides give you a thorough tutorial about how to properly pack only the essentials and adjust and carry your backpack, we’ll jump in the van and drive to the trailhead to start our 20-mile round trip trekking expedition.

Our six-day, five-night backpacking trip in North Cascades National Park follows a relatively level shoreline trail that skirts the curves of the turquoise Ross Lake. We'll start out on the Ruby Arm of the lake, camping at several lakeside sites and, of course, stopping to swim along the way! We'll stay fresh and clean on our expedition by having an Alpenolympic Bucket Hair Washing competition, entertain each other with trail games and songs, and watch for birds and wildlife on the lake.

On our second to last day of backpacking, we have the opportunity to leave most of our gear behind in camp and hike to the top of Desolation Peak. The treeless summit offers stunning 360˚ views of the surrounding peaks, rivers, and lakes in this dramatic, heavily glaciated landscape. With clear skies, we can see all the way south to the crags of the Glacier Peak Wilderness. This day hike adds 14 miles to our trip total, and we'll be certain to celebrate our hard work!

On our final day of backpacking, we'll jump into a boat taxi that will shuttle us back down the length of Ross Lake to a final short hike to our van. Tonight, we’ll freshen up and enjoy the simple luxury of a hot shower at our campsite and reflect together on our amazing time in the backcountry! 

Day 9: Climb on!

Rise and shine, Alpengirls! Wake up to a mellow yoga session to prepare us for a full day of rock climbing. We'll meet our rock climbing guides in the Methow Valley, where they'll harness us up and teach us the ways of the rock. We'll learn proper climbing and belaying techniques, and maybe even have the chance to rappel down a tall rock wall. Even girls who have never been on a wall before will get to call themselves climbers at the end of the day.

Tonight we may enjoy a meal cooked over the campfire, including our favorite Alpentreat – s’mores! Pull out your costumes and warm up your singing voice, because the Alpenolympic Talent Show event may take place this evening as well.

Day 10: Saddle up, cowgirls!

Today we’ll enjoy a big hearty breakfast, pull on our boots, and pack our day packs for a western horseback trail ride in the mountains of the Methow Valley, a highlight for many Alpengirls.

After riding, we’ll make our way back towards the Washington coast, stopping en route for a swim at a local swimming hole or lake. Girls who are up for some competition may get the chance to test their creativity skills with some of our favorite Alpenolympic games, like Whale Breaching and Water Ballet.

Day 11: To the sea!

This morning, we'll meet our professional sea kayaking guides and set off for a protected island in the San Juan archipelago. We’ll eat a delicious lunch on the island, explore, and learn about wild harvesting, tide pools, and the ocean environment. We might catch a glimpse of eagles, otters, or seals with pups!  

After kayaking, we’ll freshen up and get ready to see a bit of downtown Bellingham, WA, and enjoy a stop at the local ice cream shop. Tonight, we’ll have our traditional End of Session Awards and pizza party, exchanging email addresses and phone numbers with the new friends we’ve made.

Day 12: It’s time to go home! 

Exchanging hugs with your friends, you’ll depart from SeaTac International Airport in Seattle, WA, knowing that you’ve had a ton of fun and accomplished great things as an Alpengirl and will be a part of our fantastic community for life. See you next summer!

PLEASE NOTE: Alpengirl reserves the right to cancel or alter any aspect of a program, before or during the session, including program itinerary, activities, or location for reasons including but not limited to weather, environment, logistics, or health hazards. If itinerary changes occur, we will substitute comparable alternatives, if possible. If there are significant itinerary changes, parents will be notified by email.

Trip Campsites & Amenities

Six nights are spent in tents in public “front country” campgrounds where we have pre-assigned campsites with neighbors and campground hosts nearby, running potable water, and private outhouses or flushing toilets.

Five nights are spent in tents in wilderness “backcountry” areas where we will purify our water before drinking and learn to practice basic Leave No Trace camping skills such as how to select a campsite, how to go to the bathroom, and keep clean outdoors. 

Why Choose This Trip

The North Cascades Adventure is for campers who are excited to get out of their comfort zone a bit and have some real adventures in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the United States. With a longer backpacking trip than most Alpengirl camps (though little daily elevation gain), this camp is perfect for campers who love nature and hiking. Additionally, those up for the challenge will get to attempt one of the highest altitude peak summits we reach in our camps! Add on the gorgeous views, refreshing swims in mountain lakes, and the mellow pace, you can’t go wrong with this session. Limited to 10 campers in the group.